Miami Dolphins: Tyson Clabo

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DAVIE, Fla. -- It was one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL draft that the Miami Dolphins desperately needed to fix their offensive line this week. Miami’s weakest unit allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterback sacks and could have as many as four new starters next season. Major changes were needed.

But the first pick of the Dennis Hickey era felt like a reach Thursday night when the Dolphins selected right tackle Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 overall. Most draft experts did not rate James as the 19th-best player in this draft. James said himself that some people told him he was projected to go in the second round. There was a solid chance the Dolphins could've landed James later in the first round by trading down to acquire more picks, which seemed like the best scenario.

However, Hickey said James was the best available player on the Dolphins' draft board. (I have yet to see a general manager willing to admit the opposite.) James was a player Miami did extensive homework on and fits many of the characteristics the team is looking for.

But the big question remains: Did Miami get the right value for this pick?

“We had a couple calls [for trades], but we were just excited about picking Ja'Wuan James and adding him to our roster,” Hickey said. “He’s a guy that definitely fits in from a talent aspect as well as a person, and brings what the Dolphins were all about.”

The draft board did not fall in Miami's favor. The Dolphins were put at a disadvantage when top-tier offensive tackles Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin were all taken off the board in the first 16 picks. That left the Dolphins with the option of picking the fifth-rated offensive tackle, which is their biggest need, or another position. Miami passed on higher-rated players by the general consensus such as safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

On the positive, James could be a Day 1 starter for Miami. The Dolphins' offensive line was ravaged this offseason due to the loss of offensive tackles Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo in free agency and guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry with last year’s bullying scandal. James started 49 career games at Tennessee in the competitive Southeastern Conference and comes to Miami with plenty of college experience.

“I’m a tough, smart offensive lineman,” James said on a conference call with the Miami media. “I pride myself on being smart and not making many mistakes. I bring athleticism to the table, strength and a lot of experience.”

The Dolphins held the No. 19 pick only twice before in their team history. Miami selected two solid players: offensive lineman Vernon Carey (2004) and defensive end Kim Bokamper (1976) with those picks. Perhaps James can join the aforementioned pair as a quality contributor for the franchise. If that's the case, no one will care several years from now where James was taken. But Hickey's first draft pick in Miami lacks sizzle.
One of the worst-kept secrets in this year’s NFL draft is the Miami Dolphins will draft offensive linemen. There is a strong chance Miami will dedicate at least two of its six draft picks this year on fixing the position.

The Dolphins are in the process of completely making over the offensive line. Miami could have four new starters next season after the departures of tackles Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo in free agency and guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry due to last year’s bullying scandal. Jonathan Martin, who began the 2013 season at left tackle, was traded after leaving the team in late October due to the harassment.

Miami could only do so much in free agency. The Dolphins signed starting left tackle Branden Albert and guard Shelley Smith. But another guard position and right tackle remain wide open entering next week’s draft.

Top prospects such as Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan are expected to be off the board when the Dolphins select at No. 19. Therefore, former NFL head coach and ESPN football analyst Jon Gruden shared his thoughts on this year’s second tier of offensive tackles in a recent conference call:
“Morgan Moses at Virginia is a very interesting guy to me. They've had a history of left tackles come out of Virginia. Moses is a kid that played one year at left tackle. He was a right tackle for a couple years. Joel Bitonio at Nevada is an interesting player. A fifth-year senior, been around, worked hard. I think he has some position flexibility, can play right, left or go inside. I like Zack Martin at Notre Dame. He might be my favorite linemen in this draft – 52-time starter, captain, really excelled at the Senior Bowl, drill work. Cyrus Kouandjio at Alabama, interesting player. Had some knee issues. I believe he's rounding into health. Massive person with experience on the left side. There's a number of interesting big people in this draft. I think last year we had three tackles go in the top five. So we got a lot of good quality offensive linemen coming into pro football here.”

The Dolphins are expected to have interest in all of these prospects. Martin is the top target at No. 19 of this group. But Moses and Bitonio also are possibilities in the second round.

Look for Miami to not only look for offensive linemen in the early rounds, but also in the middle and late rounds, as well.
The Miami Dolphins’ front office has been intrigued by the “show me” contracts lately. Instead of paying veterans a boatload of money in multi-year extension, Miami has opted to pay several key players a good one-year salary to see how they fit with the organization.

Last year, Miami signed three veterans to “show me” contracts: cornerback Brent Grimes, tight end Dustin Keller and right tackle Tyson Clabo. All three were longtime starters who had to prove they could fit in Miami’s system.

The three aforementioned players went in different directions in 2013. Keller suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason and never got a chance to show what he could do. Clabo was inconsistent and was benched at one point in the season. Grimes developed into a Pro Bowl corner and eventually signed a long-term extension with the Dolphins this offseason.

Will this year’s “show me” go the route of Grimes or Clabo and Keller? Let’s examine.

Player: S Louis Delmas

Contract: One year, $3.5 million

Analysis: Delmas brings intensity and physical play to the back end of Miami’s secondary. But there are also injury concerns. That led to the “show me” contract with the Dolphins. Delmas already said he’s out to prove he can stay healthy and be a top-end safety in the NFL. Miami already paid Reshad Jones a big extension last season. Therefore, Delmas will have to do a lot this year for Miami to put another significant contract into the safety position.

Player: RB Knowshon Moreno

Contract: One year, $3 million

Analysis: Is Moreno coming into his own or the product of Peyton Manning’s system? That is the question the Dolphins and fans will try to get the answer to this season. Moreno was a first-round bust until Manning arrived to the Denver Broncos. Moreno had a career year with 1,038 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns last season. The holes will not be as big for Moreno in Miami. But he should be a better option at tailback than 2013 Dolphins starter Lamar Miller. If Moreno can top last year’s numbers with the Dolphins, that could put him in line for a more secure contract.

Player: CB Cortland Finnegan

Contract: Two years, $11 million

Analysis: Finnegan has a two-year contract. But it could easily become a one-year contract where the Dolphins cut their losses if things don’t pan out in 2014. Finnegan has been a solid corner most of his career but has hit on hard times the past two seasons with injuries and inconsistent play. Finnegan is looking to regain his swagger in Miami. If he turns out to be the 2013 version of Grimes, Finnegan will stay for the full length of his contract. But the pressure is on to produce this year.
It appears many Miami Dolphins fans are happy with the first week of free agency. The team addressed needs at left tackle, defensive tackle, cornerback and safety.

But that doesn’t mean the Dolphins should be satisfied. Over the weekend, we asked Miami fans what position should be next in line to fill.

According to more than 7,000 Dolphins fans who voted, right tackle is the most important hole to fill. This is a spot left behind by Tyson Clabo, who is a free agent, and Jonathan Martin, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers following last year’s high-profile bullying scandal. More than half of Dolphins fans who participated in the poll believe that's where the team should spend next in free agency.

In second place is running back. The Dolphins were 26th in rushing last season and Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas did not get the job done. Miami could be in the market to find a new rusher via the draft or free agency.

In third place was the guard position. Miami signed Shelley Smith from the St. Louis Rams but still need another starting guard. Thanks to everyone who voted.
Branden AlbertPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins bolstered their O-line by agreeing to a five-year, $46 million deal with Brandon Albert.
NFL free agency kicked off with a bang Tuesday, and Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was one of the biggest names to switch teams. Albert signed a five-year, $46 million contract with Miami Dolphins. He spent the previous five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

One team’s loss is another team’s gain in free agency. ESPN.com’s Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Dolphins reporter James Walker weigh in on both sides of the Albert signing.

James Walker: Adam, the Dolphins are ecstatic to land a player of Albert’s caliber. Pro Bowl left tackles do not grow on trees, and Albert was the highest-rated player at that position on the market. Albert also filled Miami’s biggest need on the offensive line, which was torn apart last season with the bullying controversy. The price tag wasn’t cheap. But the Dolphins feel it was worth the investment, especially after watching their quarterback get sacked a team-record 58 times last season. Albert will protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside. Adam, how are the Chiefs dealing with the loss of Albert?

Adam Teicher: It’s a loss for the Chiefs for the short term without a doubt. Eventually, the Chiefs should be able to handle his departure. The Chiefs and Albert were so far apart on a long-term contract last year that they knew it was never going to happen. So they began preparing for this day last year by selecting a tackle, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft. Fisher started as a rookie at right tackle but didn’t play well. He was a huge disappointment, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t eventually become the player the Chiefs envision. He needs a year in Kansas City’s weight program. That alone should make him better.

The Chiefs and Dolphins talked about a trade involving Albert last year. How disappointed was Miami they couldn’t acquire Albert then?

Walker: The Dolphins liked Albert last year, but the person calling the shots this year is different. Miami fired former general manager Jeff Ireland and hired new GM Dennis Hickey in January. Ireland liked to acquire picks as opposed to trading them away. So it wasn’t a shock when talks with Kansas City failed. It turned out to be a mistake as Miami’s offensive line was atrocious, which played a factor in Ireland losing his job. Hickey doesn’t want to make the same mistake. It appears he values the perks of a good offensive line and is making it a priority by putting money into Albert.

Adam, the Chiefs’ offensive line appears to be in transition with losses of Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. How will they recover?

Teicher: They’ve tried to prepare for this. Over the last four drafts, the Chiefs have used five picks in the first three rounds on offensive linemen. Four of them will start next season. They have three developmental linemen and the Chiefs could slide one of them into a starting spot in the middle of the line. Their depth will definitely take a hit, particularly at tackle. They’ll have to find some backups and perhaps even a starter through free agency or the draft.

With regard to the offensive line, is anything left for the Dolphins to do or are they set?

Walker: The Dolphins are far from set, Adam. Unlike Kansas City, Miami has not invested much in the offensive line in the past year. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only starting offensive lineman expected to return. Last year’s starting guards -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- will not return due to their involvement in Miami’s high-profile bullying scandal. Offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both unrestricted free agents who are long in the tooth. Pouncey and Albert are a solid foundation. But the Dolphins still need two starting guards and a right tackle to play alongside their two Pro Bowlers.

Free-agency primer: Dolphins

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: DT Randy Starks, DT Paul Soliai, S Chris Clemons, G Richie Incognito, G John Jerry, OT Bryant McKinnie, OT Tyson Clabo

Where they stand: The Dolphins are expecting major turnover on their offensive line this offseason. Four starters -- Incognito, Jerry, McKinnie and Clabo -- are unrestricted free agents; most are not expected to return after Miami set a franchise record with 58 quarterback sacks allowed and were 26th in rushing. Incognito and Jerry were both involved in Miami’s high-profile bullying scandal. McKinnie and Clabo are older veterans at the end of their careers. So the Dolphins will look to get younger at offensive tackle. Starks and Soliai are solid defensive tackles who could get interest on the open market. Clemons is an average safety who has starting experience.

What to expect: Incognito and Jerry are as good as gone. Both were cited in the 144-page Ted Wells report. The Dolphins will let them go elsewhere in order to distance the franchise from that ugly scandal. Miami has plenty of cap room and will look to spend it at offensive tackle. Free-agent tackles like Eugene Monroe and Branden Albert could be high priorities. If the Dolphins can land one of them, that rules out a return for McKinnie. The defensive tackle position is interesting. Miami may aim to bring back Starks or Soliai, but nothing is guaranteed if neither player is signed before March 11. There is a chance the Dolphins could lose both players and need a contingency plan.

Poll Friday: Dolphins mock draft

February, 21, 2014
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With the NFL combine underway in Indianapolis, this is a good time to focus on May’s NFL draft.

So here is our latest “Poll Friday” question on the Miami Dolphins: Who should the team draft at No. 19 overall? Stocks will rise and fall in the next few months, but teams have a good handle on needs and which prospects should go in the first round.

SportsNation

Who should the Dolphins draft at No. 19 overall?

  •  
    53%
  •  
    30%
  •  
    4%
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    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,104)

Will the Dolphins draft Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin? He’s a smart, hard-nosed player with good leadership. These are all qualities the Dolphins will be looking for in the draft. Martin also has the versatility to potentially play guard at the next level.

What about Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio? The Crimson Tide’s offensive line has been dominant the past several years, and Kouandjio was a big part of that. The Dolphins certainly need offensive tackles. Miami starters Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo are unrestricted free agents.

Or should the Dolphins select Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses? He’s not considered as stout a prospect as Martin or Kouandjio. But Moses fills a major need at offensive tackle if others are taken off the board. You can also vote whether the Dolphins should draft another player not listed.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Or you can send me a message via Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.

Miami Dolphins combine preview

February, 18, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins have been "team turmoil" as of late. They have been dealing with the aftermath of the Ted Wells report, but there are some other things on the way in terms of free agency and the NFL draft.

With that in mind, the NFL combine kicks off later this week. The Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick.

Here are some key questions and answers:

1. How will the new GM handle the combine?

This is the first NFL combine as the top guy for Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey. He worked in both college and pro scouting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 18 years before getting the GM job in Miami in January.

Hickey was not Miami’s first choice, but he has an opportunity to begin proving his worth at the combine. Scouting is his specialty and one of the primary reasons he got the job. The Dolphins have some holes to fill.

Hickey will address the media on Thursday in Indianapolis. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Hickey most likely will have to spend a good amount of time addressing the fallout from the Ted Wells report, which was released last week and detailed Miami’s bullying scandal involving Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.

2. Who are some players to watch for Miami?

The Dolphins were 8-8 in 2013. So they are not a rebuilding team with a bare cupboard. However, Miami does have some well-defined needs that must be addressed if the Dolphins want to get to the next level.

For starters, Miami must rebuild nearly its entire offensive line. It was the weakest part of the team last year, allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks to go with an inconsistent running game. The Dolphins have four starters about to become unrestricted free agents: offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie, as well as guards Incognito and John Jerry. Incognito and Jerry were two parties involved in the Ted Wells investigation for Miami’s bullying scandal and won’t return. Clabo and McKinnie are older players and the Dolphins will look to get younger at the position.

That means Miami will have a long look at guards and tackles in the draft. The Dolphins are fortunate that this is an area of great depth this year. Some offensive tackles to keep an eye on are Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Virginia's Morgan Moses. All three should be in range for Miami at No. 19. Potential second-round selections could come at running back, where players like Carlos Hyde from Ohio State or Wisconsin’s James White could be available.

3. What is Jonathan Martin’s future?

Scouting rookies isn’t the only business that happens at the combine. Team executives also meet with agents in Indianapolis to discuss current NFL players, potential trades and contracts. One major issue for Miami is what to do with Martin.

The 2012 second-round pick has two years left on his rookie contract. But it’s clear after the Wells report that a mutual parting of ways is best for both parties. Both sides are expected to meet in Indianapolis to figure out where to go from here.
It's no secret the Miami Dolphins have a major need on the offensive line. The Dolphins set the franchise record for sacks allowed with 58 and were 26th in rushing last year.

With that in mind, should the Dolphins have interest in recently released offensive tackle Gabe Carimi? There is evidence to suggest Miami could kick tires on Carimi.

For starters, Carimi was acquired in a trade last offseason by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey played a prominent role. Carimi was a draft bust as a former first-round pick of the Chicago Bears. But just last year Hickey and Tampa Bay believed they could jump-start his career.

It did not work out in Tampa, but Hickey may still believe Carimi's best football is ahead of him. Carimi played in 14 games for the Buccaneers in 2013, starting three.

Miami has four starting offensive linemen about to become free agents. Two are starting tackles: Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie. Fellow tackle Jonathan Martin also is not expected back due to the high-profile bullying scandal.

It makes sense for Miami to consider taking a flier on Carimi. He is a low-risk player who won't cost much. Carimi also is young and plays offensive tackle, which is a major position of need for the Dolphins.

With Hickey now running Miami's front office, the ball is in his court.
With the 2013 season officially in the books, it’s time to shift our focus to 2014. ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both produced their post-Super Bowl mock drafts on Thursday.

Here is how they view the Miami Dolphins with the No. 19 overall pick:
Interestingly, both Kiper and McShay projected the same position and player for Miami in May’s draft. It’s no secret that offensive line is a huge need for the Dolphins after allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks last season. Miami's running game also was rated 26th in the league. Starting offensive linemen Bryant McKinnie, Tyson Clabo, John Jerry and Richie Incognito will all become free agents in March and most -- if not all -- are expected to leave.

Martin would be a solid addition with the 19th pick. He was a very productive player at Notre Dame and is coming off a productive Senior Bowl. He is a three-year starter and team captain, which shows leadership.

The only question I have about Martin is his physical tools. He's not as naturally gifted as other left tackle prospects in the draft. But Martin is a high-motor player who gets the most out of what he has.

Martin would be a safe pick for the Dolphins, albeit not a spectacular one.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 25-28

February, 4, 2014
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ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues to rank the top-40 players on the team.

Next up, we take a look at Nos. 25-28.

No. 28: Rishard Matthews

Position: Wide receiver

2013 stats: 41 receptions, 448 yards, two TDs

Analysis: I always liked Matthews since his rookie year in 2012. Even as a seventh-rounder, Matthews competed hard and had the moxie of a higher pick. But opportunities have been few and far between for Matthews. He finally got a shot following a season-ending knee injury to slot receiver Brandon Gibson. Matthews took advantage with a career-high 41 catches. Matthews waited his turn and earned playing time the hard way. It will be interesting to see where Matthews fits into a deep receiving group in 2014.

No. 27: Jonathan Martin

Position: Offensive tackle

2013 stats: Seven starts

Analysis: Martin’s name is associated with a bullying scandal. But in addition to the off-the-field issues, Martin was also struggling on the field. Martin didn’t hold his own at left tackle and was switched to the right side following the Bryant McKinnie trade. Then he left the Dolphins, probably for the last time. Miami will try to trade Martin, but it won’t be a busy market. A release appears more likely.

No. 26: Tyson Clabo

Position: Offensive tackle

2013 stats: 15 starts

Analysis: Clabo, 32, had an up and down 2013 season. He played his worst football to start the year and was eventually benched last October. But the bullying scandal involving Martin and teammate Richie Incognito opened up another opportunity for Clabo to return to the starting lineup. Clabo played better football and showed why he’s a veteran. But the unrestricted free agent may not return as Miami is expected to do a major makeover on the offensive line.

No. 25: Lamar Miller

Position: Running back

2013 stats: 709 rushing yards, two TDs

Analysis: Many questions still remain about Miller after his first year as a starter. He wasn’t consistent and had just one 100-yard rushing game. Miami’s coaches didn’t feel he could handle the load. Miller only received 20 carries or more in a game once. The Dolphins could be in the market for a bell cow, which would put Miller back on the bench. He was at his best as a change-of-pace back during his rookie year.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web:
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald examines the many texts of Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.
Morning take: The two certainly communicated often. Their graphic language shows how twisted their relationship was.
  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel writes new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has an eye for developing talent.
Morning take: This will be the No. 1 job for Hickey. Former general manager Jeff Ireland had some hits and misses, but Hickey must be on point right away.
Morning take: I expect a major makeover of this group. Starters such as Incognito, Martin, Tyson Clabo, John Jerry and Bryant McKinnie could go elsewhere in 2014.
  • Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post believes the Dolphins should look at the Seattle Seahawks.
Morning take: Every team should look at the reigning Super Bowl champions. Seattle built its team the right way and has a chance to stay strong next season.

Walker's Dolphins Draft Watch: 1.0

January, 23, 2014
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The NFL draft is months away. But it's never too early to discuss how the Miami Dolphins must improve their roster.

There will be months of evaluations, workouts and stocks going up and down among college players. But here are ESPN.com's Dolphins page's early top five matches for Miami with the No. 19 overall pick.

1. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both free agents. Jonathan Martin, a 2012 second-round pick, also is not expected back following Miami's recent bullying scandal. That makes a first-round tackle like Kouandjio a target for Miami. It's hard to go wrong with an Alabama offensive lineman. Alabama's run blocking and pass protection has been arguably the nation's best for the past three years, and Kouandjio was part of that.

2. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

Analysis: Miami's running game was 26th in the NFL last year. Hyde is the top running back prospect in the draft. It's a natural link. Hyde was productive for Ohio State last season with 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is a big, physical runner, which Miami lacked last year. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were not the answer for the Dolphins last year.

3. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Analysis: Martin doesn't have the physical gifts of Kouandjio. But Martin gets the most of his ability and fits the mold of a "Joe Philbin guy." He's a hard worker and former team captain at Notre Dame. Martin may have position versatility to play guard at the NFL level, as well. The Dolphins' coaching staff values players who are good at multiple positions.

4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting safety Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent and replaceable. The Dolphins need a playmaker on the back end to pair with Reshad Jones, and Clinton-Dix has that potential. Clinton-Dix has good instincts, awareness and also can cover well, which the Dolphins lacked at safety last season. Re-signing corner Brent Grimes and drafting Clinton-Dix would make for a stronger secondary for Miami in 2014.

5. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Analysis: If you can't tell by now, the Dolphins need offensive tackles. Moses is another prospect with potential, but he's more of an unfinished product than Kouandjio and Martin. Moses may be better suited at right tackle than left tackle. But it doesn't hurt that Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was part of the coaching staff that recruited Moses to the University of Virginia.

Periodically, we will update this with our 2.0 list as we continue to get closer to the NFL draft.
The Senior Bowl practices are underway in Mobile, Ala.Unless you're the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks, this is the biggest thing going for NFL teams this week.

The Miami Dolphins have their scouts and personnel department in Mobile. Here are five college prospects the Dolphins can have their eye on:

1. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Thoughts: The Dolphins desperately need offensive linemen -- and particularly offensive tackles. Miami starters Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both free agents. Jonathan Martin also is expected to be traded or released following the team's bullying scandal. That makes a big tackle prospect like Moses attractive. It also doesn't hurt that Moses has ties to new Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was part of the coaching staff that recruited Moses to Virginia.

2. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Thoughts: Martin is an experienced left tackle who has good leadership and started 52 games in his career. He's played in many big games and shouldn't be afraid of the big stage. Martin doesn't have the same physical gifts as Moses but brings a lot of intangibles. He may also offer versatility as a guard, which is also a position of need for Miami.

3. James White, RB, Wisconsin

Thoughts: White had a productive year in the rugged Big Ten conference. He rushed for 1,444 yards and 13 touchdowns for Wisconsin, which is a school known to churn out quality running backs. White also is a Ft. Lauderdale native and would be happy to return home. Although not huge, White is durable and productive.

4. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

Thoughts: The Dolphins have yet to hire a general manager. But there is a decent chance that new GM will take a flier on the quarterback. Yes, Ryan Tannehill has done enough to earn a third consecutive year as a starter. Tannehill has some tools and potential. But Tannehill was a top pick of former GM Jeff Ireland, not the new GM. It wouldn't be surprising if Miami's next head of personnel takes a mid-to-late round quarterback of their own to develop on the roster.

Kiper mock 1.0 reaction: Dolphins

January, 15, 2014
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It's never too early to talk NFL draft, and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is ahead of the curve with his first mock draft Insider of the offseason.

Kiper predicts the Miami Dolphins will select Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio with the No. 19 overall pick in May. This is a huge position of need for Miami, which allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterbacks sacks last season. Miami's running game also stalled and was ranked 26th in the NFL.

The pick makes sense for the Dolphins. They have a pair of free-agent starters in offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie. There is a good chance one or both will not return. Second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin also was in the middle of a bullying scandal last season and is expected to be traded or released.

The Dolphins need a major makeover on the offensive line, and drafting Kouandjio in the first round could be a solid start in the right direction.

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